Tim Wise: NPR Was Wrong to Fire Juan Williams

I hate to belabor a point, but this Juan Williams thing has been bugging me. Not that I’m losing sleep over it or anything, but it’s like I’ve been having this conversation all week and all through the weekend. The thing that bugs me about it, is that the people with whom I’ve been engaged over this, fail to see it the way like I do.

Not that I expect you to agree with everything I’ve said; nope, never that. However, in my opinion, if there’s anything the Juan Williams debacle has shed light on, is that hypocrisy isn’t partisan. I rail against right-wing hypocrisy on this site, and I’d be just as blind as our right-wing counterparts to not point out leftist hypocrisy.

This from Tim Wise’s Bikini Liberalism: Juan Williams, Implicit Bias, and the Trouble With NPR:
Yet what had Williams done, exactly? He acknowledged his own biases, and then explained the fallacy embedded therein. He was being honest, and in so doing, demonstrating an important fact that the nice white liberals who predominate at NPR try to deny, especially for themselves. Namely, that even the best of us can be taken in by racism, by religious bias, by ethnic chauvinism, by prejudice. No matter our liberal bona fides, the bottom line is this: advertising works, whether for selling toothpaste, tennis shoes, or stereotypes.

Putting aside for a moment the irony – after all, much of the most crass anti-Muslim invective has been provided by the very people at FOX who pay Williams’s bills – the point remains: no one can completely avoid ingesting some of that to which we’re subjected when it comes to racial or religious “others.” Years of research bears out this fact, indicating that wide majorities of us have internalized implicit biases against all types of people: African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, women, LGBT folks, persons with disabilities, and others. Not because we are bad people, let alone bigots, but because we’re imperfect beings who despite being pretty decent, nonetheless can find ourselves stuck in the cognitive traps laid for us by the larger culture. Like for example, remember when Bill Maher used the word “nigger” on Larry King several weeks ago in a conversation on Tea Party racism? Well, I don’t recall any of my leftist brothers in arms taking issue with him using the word. Of course not; Bill, like all white liberals are the epitome of what is right about white folks.

Besides, to the liberal mind Bill can’t be racist; hell, he used the word “nigger” to express “liberal truth” about those racist Tea Party hooligans. Williams however, well, he was on Rupert Murdoch’s payroll and obviously he was wrong to say what he said; he’s an enabler of right-wing nutjobs for crying out loud!

Oh well, in the end I’ll say this: Everything being equal, if it were Dr. Marc Lamont Hill on The Factor and said the same thing in a counter argument to O’Reilly’s bigoted remarks (as Williams did) and was fired by NPR, people on the left would be losing their rabbit ass minds. And therein lies the hypocrisy.